- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

President Obama downplayed his role in the transgender bathroom controversy Wednesday, saying he hasn’t pushed the issue in his administration and he believes there are “more pressing” problems in the country.

“Somehow people think that I made it an issue. I didn’t make it an issue,” Mr. Obama said at a town-hall-style event in Elkhart, Indiana.

Asked by a voter why transgender bathrooms had become such an important subject, the president replied, “There are a lot of things that are more pressing, you’re absolutely right.”

He said essentially his administration had no choice when school districts asked for guidance.

“You have transgender kids in schools, and they get bullied,” the president said. “And they get ostracized. And it’s tough for them. And the question then is, schools are asking us, the Department of Education for guidance. And my answer is, that we should deal with this issue the same we we’d want it dealt with if it was our child. And that is to try and create an environment with some dignity and kindness for these kids. That’s sort of the bottom line.”

The administration told schools last month that they should allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice, not the one corresponding with their gender on their birth certificate. At least 11 states are fighting the guidance in court.

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The president said he has “profound respect” for people’s religious beliefs, but he referred to the Golden Rule. He also said that, as president, he doesn’t always choose the issues that come before him.

“We’re of a generation where that stuff was all out of sight and out of mind,” Mr. Obama said. “And so people suffered silently. But now they are out in the open. I have to just say what’s in my heart. But I also have to look at what’s in the law.”

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